My brother took this photo. But I get the credit because I was holding the canoe steady. This water lily lives in the marsh where I have camped for weeks every summer since I was seven. This marsh is the place where I feel most at home, the place I dream about during February when the winter seems endless. At the edge of this marsh, around a campfire on summer nights, my extended family gathers to tell stories, tell jokes, tease each other. It's where I learned the art of bantering.
Sometimes in the early morning when mist still clings to the cattails, I'll sneak out early with a canoe, a rock in the bow to balance me, and paddle out into the marsh all by myself. It's where I go to be myself, to think and to cry.
When I was little, my mother taught me not to pick water lilies. She said that they were rare and beautiful, and it's better to leave them where they are, letting them live, nestled in amongst the curling green pads, the stirred up muck, touched by snakes and frogs and green bottle flies. When I canoe through the marsh, I glide carefully around the water lilies. I admire the way a water lily grows up in those layers of decayed plant material, roots sometimes floating to the surface.
So somehow this image of the water lily seems the appropriate gift for David, who stayed up with me the other night to write poetry, even though he was ridiculously tired, because it was the middle of the night and I needed to talk. I can't pick the water lily and hand it to him, because he lives too far away and the marsh is frozen. And I don't pick water lilies. And I don't give out awards on my blog. And I'm not even usually nice to David because I think he's more comfortable when I insult him. But sometimes, every once in a while, I have this need to be nice. And say thank you.